State and local governments, occupational licensing boards, and other public agencies will need to dust off their rule books. Legislation requiring all these entities to list the criminal offenses they impose and report them to the General Assembly by Dec. 1 passed the House Wednesday, June 13, and is on its way to Gov. Roy Cooper.
House Bill 379, “Recodification Working Group,” passed by a 110-0 margin after breezing through the Senate earlier in the week by a 46-0 vote.
The bill would require state agencies, boards, and commissions to take inventory of crimes on their books. It’s hard to know what is — and isn’t — criminal in North Carolina, said Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba, a sponsor of the legislation. Hundreds of crimes are strewn across the N.C. General Statutes, and hundreds of other misdemeanors extend beyond state code. Administrative and licensing bodies also enact regulations that are enforced as criminal laws.
Additionally, the state allows counties, cities, towns, and metropolitan sewer districts to create crimes.
“Recodifying North Carolina’s criminal law in this way is a big undertaking,” said Jon Guze, director of legal studies at the John Locke Foundation. “Before it can begin, the General Assembly and the public need to have a clear understanding of the nature and extent of the overcriminalization problem and of what needs to be done in order to solve it.”